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Family  Harpidae

Harps and Morums





The family Harpidae is best known for its attractive tropical species, showing a combination of striking colour and elegance of form, with sculpture resembling the strings of a harp  It is a numerically small family, with less than 40 species, in three genera.  The genus Harpa, containing the largest and most spectacularly coloured species, occurs in the Indo-West Pacific and tropical Atlantic Oceans .  The genus Austroharpa is restricted to western, southern and eastern Australia , and has five species.  The genus Morum was included in the Harpidae when investigation of its anatomy showed it is very similar to Harpa.  This genus contains about 24 species, from tropical and subtropical seas.   Members of the family live from just below low tide down to several hundred metres.

Harpa species, and probably also Morum species, live in sand and feed on small crabs.  The crabs are enveloped by the foot, and held by large quantities of mucus. Saliva containing digestive enzymes is injected into the crab, and partly digested food sucked out by the mollusc.  The diet and habitat of Austroharpa are not known.

Only two representatives of the family occur in NSW, one Austroharpa and one Morum; both occur in deep water, and are rare.


Family References

  • Beu, A.G. 1976. Revision of the southwest Pacific species of Morum (Oniscidia) (Gastropoda:Cassidae).  Journal of the Malacological Society of Australia 3(3-4):223-231

  • Rehder, H.A. 1973. The family Harpidae of the world.  Indo-Pacific Mollusca 3(16): 207-274

  • Poppe, G.T., Brulet, T. & Dance, S.P. 1999. The family Harpidae  in Poppe, G.T. & Groh, K  A conchological iconography.  Conchbooks:Hackenheim

  • Walls, J.G. 1980. Conchs, tibias and harps. TFH Publications: Neptune NJ

Coverage:  All species of the family known from NSW are treated here.